History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
Abba Eban, Israeli politician, speech, Dec. 16, 1970, London
Continuing the analysis of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on America....
Beyond the "war"....
From Killing the Hydra: Only attacks on its ideas can defeat a network like Al Qaeda by Mark Sageman. In the LA Times, 6/6/04:
How do we fight such fuzzy, idea-based terrorist networks? We've already hit the hard targets that can be taken out in military actions. Now we must move on to a more difficult phase. Idea-based networks can only be attacked through a war of ideas. The jihadist vision that has inspired terrorism must be taken on, and Muslims worldwide must be engaged to help in the fight. The aim is to alter Muslims' perception that their interests are hostile to the West. This demands a two-prong strategy: a negative one, aimed at de-legitimizing terrorist ideas, and a positive one, aimed at promoting an alternative vision of a just and fair Islamic society living in harmony with the West.
This war of ideas promises to be a long war of narratives, fought on a battlefield of interpretations. But it is the only thing that can work.
From Beneath Bombast and Bombs, a Caldron of Humiliation by Jessica Stern. In the LA Times, 6/6/04:
To win this war, we cannot continue to emphasize reactionary remedies, such as unprovoked wars against yesterday's threats. We must focus instead on solutions to the threats we face today, and that will mean understanding the motivation of our enemy.
In the short term, we're fighting terrorists. In the long term, we're competing with manipulative nihilists for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims, whose support and services the terrorists require. It should be easy to demonstrate that we are more just and more honest than those we aim to defeat.
From "No Glory in Unjust War on the Weak" by Barbara Kingsolver. In the LA Times, 10/14/01:
It is not naive to propose alternatives to war. We could be the kindest nation on Earth, inside and out. I look at the bigger picture and see that many nations with fewer resources than ours have found solutions to problems that seem to baffle us. I'd like an end to corporate welfare so we could put that money into ending homelessness, as many other nations have done before us. I would like a humane health-care system organized along the lines of Canada's. I'd like the efficient public-transit system of Paris in my city, thank you. I'd like us to consume energy at the modest level that Europeans do, and then go them one better. I'd like a government that subsidizes renewable energy sources instead of forcefully patrolling the globe to protect oil gluttony. Because, make no mistake, oil gluttony is what got us into this holy war, and it's a deep tar pit. I would like us to sign the Kyoto agreement today, and reduce our fossil-fuel emissions with legislation that will ease us into safer, less gluttonous, sensibly reorganized lives. If this were the face we showed the world, and the model we helped bring about elsewhere, I expect we could get along with a military budget the size of Iceland's.
How can I take anything but a child's view of a war in which men are acting like children? What they're serving is not justice, it's simply vengeance. Adults bring about justice using the laws of common agreement. Uncivilized criminals are still held accountable through civilized institutions; we abolished stoning long ago. The World Court and the entire Muslim world stand ready to judge Osama bin Laden and his accessories. If we were to put a few billion dollars into food, health care and education instead of bombs, you can bet we'd win over enough friends to find out where he's hiding. And I'd like to point out, since no one else has, the Taliban is an alleged accessory, not the perpetrator—a legal point quickly cast aside in the rush to find a sovereign target to bomb. The word "intelligence" keeps cropping up, but I feel like I'm standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming at each other, "He started it!" and throwing rocks that keep taking out another eye, another tooth. I keep looking around for somebody's mother to come on the scene saying, "Boys! Boys! Who started it cannot possibly be the issue here. People are getting hurt."
I am somebody's mother, so I will say that now: The issue is, people are getting hurt. We need to take a moment's time out to review the monstrous waste of an endless cycle of retaliation. The biggest weapons don't win this one, guys. When there are people on Earth willing to give up their lives in hatred and use our own domestic airplanes as bombs, it's clear that we can't out-technologize them. You can't beat cancer by killing every cell in the body—or you could, I guess, but the point would be lost. This is a war of who can hate the most. There is no limit to that escalation. It will only end when we have the guts to say it really doesn't matter who started it, and begin to try and understand, then alter the forces that generate hatred.
From the LA Times, 3/31/05:
How to Win Friends in the Mideast
By Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri is a syndicated columnist. This piece is used by permission of Agence Global.
BEIRUT — The United States recently appointed Karen Hughes and Liz Cheney to revamp two persistently enigmatic and largely failed policies: global public diplomacy and the promotion of democracy throughout the Middle East.
If these two able officials want to do a better job than their predecessors in grasping why this noble American mission to promote freedom is received with such skepticism, scorn and even resistance around the world, and not just in Arab-Islamic lands, here's what they should ponder:
• Style. As that great British thinker Mick Jagger once said: "It's the singer, not the song." Washington's manner is often aggressive and threatening. It uses sanctions and the military and unilaterally lays down the law that others must follow or else they will be considered enemies and thus liable to regime change.
People don't like to be bullied or threatened, even if change would be for their own good.
• Credibility. The U.S. track record has hurt, angered or offended most people in the Middle East. By primarily backing Arab dictators and autocrats or supporting the Israeli position on key issues of Arab-Israeli peacemaking, credibility has been lost.
The priority issue for most Arabs — whether Palestinians, Iraqis or others — is freedom from foreign occupation and subjugation. If Washington uses war and pressure tactics to implement United Nations resolutions in Lebanon and Iraq but does nothing parallel to implement U.N. resolutions calling for the freedom of Palestinians from Israeli occupation, it will continue to be greeted with disdainful guffaws in most of the Middle East.
• Consistency. The United States could have promoted freedom and democracy in Iraq without waging war and spending $300 billion, getting more than 1,500 Americans killed and 10,000 injured (and perhaps 100,000 Iraqis killed) and creating a massive anti-American backlash throughout the world.
It could better promote democracy and rally Arab democrats by telling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali that being president without any meaningful legal opposition for more than 20 years is long enough. The U.S. could support term limits for Arab presidents.
• Motive. Perpetually changing the motive for the war in Iraq hurts American credibility. We've been told that invading Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction, links with Al Qaeda, imminent threats to the United States, homegrown brutality against the Iraqi people, stopping threats to neighbors and, now, spreading freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East. Some of these rationales may one day prove to be correct. In the meantime, the collection of half a dozen is crippling to placing any trust in Washington.
• Context. The Arab states suffer massive internal pressures from issues of population, identity, demography, economy, environment, ideology, crises of citizenship rights versus statehood obligations and secularism versus religiosity, and the perpetual pressure from foreign armies. In this wider context, the issues of freedom and democracy are dwarfed by the more pressing imperatives of stable statehood, liberation from foreign occupation, meeting basic human needs, and stopping foreign armies.
• Legitimacy. There is no global consensus that the United States is mandated to promote freedom and democracy, or that this is the divinely ordained destiny of the United States. There is such a mandate, though, in the charter of the United Nations, in Security Council resolutions to end foreign occupations and international legal conventions — most of which the U.S. resists, ignores or applies very selectively.
No surprise then that virtually the whole world resists the United States.
• Militarism. The American use of preemptive war for regime change creates more problems than it solves. Promoting freedom and democracy through the guns of the Marines doesn't work for many people outside of Republican and neoconservative Washington circles.
• Relevance. The value of individual freedom as defined in American culture runs counter to how freedom is understood in most of the Middle East and the developing world. There, people sacrifice individual liberties for the protection and the communal expression of belonging to a bigger group — the family, tribe, religion or ethnic or national group.
All of these are real concerns, derived from modern historical experience, and they act as the primary constraint to any meaningful Arab cooperation with the U.S. But the good news is that they all can be overcome through better communications between Arabs and Americans and more consistent, lawful policies by everyone concerned.
From the LA Times, 10/21/01:
Americans, Yes, but World Citizens, Too
By DANIEL TERRIS
Daniel Terris is director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University
WALTHAM, Mass. — "Throughout my public career," President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, "I have followed the personal philosophy that I am a free man, an American, a public servant and a member of my party, in that order always and only."
In the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedies, Americans have shown their patriotic colors. But, as Johnson made clear, patriotism does not require us always to put our national identity first when considering the various roles we play in the world. Our commitment to country is always stronger when it complements and builds upon other commitments. In the 21st century, we should expand Johnson's list to include our role as citizens of the world.
Americans, after all, are not only Americans. We also belong to a global community. Americans tend to shy away from thinking of themselves as global citizens. For all our bravado, we are insecure about the depth and the power of our national identity. We worry that something essential to the American character will be lost if we dilute our national feeling with too much commitment to the international.
Global citizenship and patriotism need not compete. Indeed, the one is bound to enrich the other. If we think deeply about the United States and its place in the world, we are bound to think more creatively and more deeply about which aspects of our country matter most to us.
Here are four ways in which we might begin.
First, we can recognize that the sense of suffering, grief and fear we've felt so intensely in recent weeks is not uncommon around the globe. Violence on a catastrophic scale is a new experience for most Americans alive today, but it is all too familiar to many people around the world. We miss a vital opportunity for establishing strong bonds across oceans when we neglect to think of our losses as a part of a larger contemporary human tragedy.
Second, we might extend this sense of connection with the fears and passions of others by toning down the constant—and very public—celebration of our national destiny and greatness. It was natural for us to react in the immediate aftermath of tragedy with the swollen rhetoric of injured pride: Our enemies attacked us because we are so strong and so good, we will triumph because no national spirit matches our own, and other similar sentiments.
The time has come to scale back our self-righteousness. Our enemies never bought our assertions of American greatness. Our friends, however, even our closest allies, are beginning to resent our self-importance. Efforts to build a global coalition are bound to be more fruitful if we approach potential partners, not as a swaggering savior, but as fellow citizens of a world in peril.
Third, thinking of ourselves as global citizens can dissuade us from making the glib assumption, underlying one leading edge of patriotic fervor, that "American values" represent the pinnacle of political and cultural ideals. I agree with those who believe that freedom and equality have flourished in the United States to a much greater degree than they have in most other parts of the world. But since we argue among ourselves about the meaning, the priority and the implementation of these ideals at home, we should expect and welcome vigorous debates about the goals of human society in an international context. And we should respect the international organizations and institutions that embody those contested universal ideals. International courts have already played a significant role in helping the world come to terms with atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. Americans have been reluctant to support a strong international justice system, but without one, we now lack a crucial element in the struggle against terrorism.
Fourth, and most important, we must recall the essential duty of any patriot: the task of careful, penetrating national self-criticism. This not a matter of tolerating dissent, which we already do reasonably well.
I am speaking of something grander than permitting expressions of outrage: I mean to suggest a collective effort to use the perspective of global identity to reflect on our values, our language and our actions. A consistent effort to see ourselves from outside ourselves paves the way for actions that are considered and collaborative.
The patriotism that emerges from this dialogue will not just be about flags and parades. If we take an active role in making and remaking American ideals and aspirations, if we talk candidly about our nation's weaknesses, as well as its strengths, we will find it easier to persuade our friends abroad to join with us in causes that matter, and we will find it easier to sustain strong national feeling across the widest spectrum of the American public. That patriotism will flourish, because it is not something static, not something that has simply been handed to us. Global commitment will make America stronger, precisely because it will make us humbler.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
From a column in the LA Times, 9/23/01:
... And Peace
By HOWARD ZINN
Howard Zinn is the author of "The People's History of the United States."
When McVeigh was executed, the Boston Herald ran a huge headline that read "It's Over." But we know now how wrong that was. It was not over. And it will not be over until we stop concentrating on punishment and retaliation and think calmly and intelligently about what to do about terrorism.
History can be useful, and there is a history of terrorism and reactions to it. We have answered terrorist acts with force again and again. It is the old way of thinking, the old way of acting. It has never worked.
Former President Reagan bombed Libya after a terrorist action in a discotheque in Germany. The bombs were never intended to strike "the actual terrorists:" Indeed, it was never clear who the terrorists were. But the bombs did kill a number of people, including Moammar Kadafi's adopted 3-year-old daughter. Former President Clinton, after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, sent 75 cruise missiles (each a weapon of mass destruction) to hit a presumed training camp in Afghanistan and what was described as a chemical weapons manufacturing plant in the Sudan. It turned out that the factory in the Sudan was not that at all, but a pharmaceutical plant, and that its destruction deprived huge numbers of Sudanese of medicines they needed.
The claim, in all of these bombings was that we had to "send a message" to terrorists. And then comes this horror in New York and Washington. Isn't it clear by now that sending "a message" to terrorists through violence doesn't work, that it only leads to more terrorism? And isn't it the terrorists themselves who explain their awful deeds by saying they need to send a message to the world?
Haven't we learned anything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Car bombs planted by Palestinians bring air attacks and tanks by the Israeli government. That has been going on for years. It doesn't work. And innocent people die on both sides.
We need new ways of thinking. We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been the victims of American military action. In Vietnam, where we carried out terrorizing bombing attacks, using napalm and cluster bombs, on peasant villages. In Latin America, where we supported dictators and death squads in Chile and El Salvador and other countries. In Iraq, where a million people have died as a result of our economic sanctions. We need to pull back from our overbearing posture astride the globe, with military bases in nineteen countries, with our warships on every sea. Our presence in Saudi Arabia is a particular provocation to Osama bin Laden, but also to other Saudi nationalists. We supply Israel with high-tech weapons, while in the West Bank and Gaza over a million and more Palestinians live under a cruel military occupation.
We should remind ourselves that the awful scenes of death and suffering we are now witnessing on our television screens have been endured by people in other parts of the world for a long time, and often as a result of our nation's policies. We can now imagine their fear, because of the fear we are all experiencing for ourselves and our children. We need to understand how some of those people will go beyond fear and anger to acts of terrorism.
Our own fear will remain until we begin to think differently about what constitutes real security. A $300 billion dollar military budget has not given us security. Military bases all over the world, our warships on every ocean, have not given us security. Land mines, a "national missile defense shield," will not give us security. We need to rethink our position in the world. We need to stop sending weapons to countries that oppress other people or their own people.
We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.
Yes, we can tend to immediate security needs. Let's take some of the billions allocated for "missile defense," totally useless against terrorist attacks such as this one, and pay the security people at airports decent wages, give them intensive training, hire marshals to be on every flight. But ultimately, there is no certain security against the unpredictable.
True, we can find Bin Laden, if he was indeed the perpetrator of last week's tragedy, and punish him. But that will not end terrorism so long as the pent-up grievances of decades, felt in so many countries of the Third World, remain unattended.
We cannot be secure so long as we use our national wealth, for guns, planes, bombs and nuclear weapons to maintain our position as a military superpower. We should use that wealth instead to deal with poverty and sickness in other parts of the world where desperation breeds resentment. We need to become an economic and social superpower.
Here at home, our true security cannot come from putting the nation on a war footing, with the accompanying threats to civil liberties that this brings. It can only come from using our resources to make us the model of a good society, prosperous and peacemaking, with free, universal medical care, education and housing, guaranteed decent wages and a clean environment for all.
We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting "retaliate" and "war" but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not vengeance but compassion, not violence but healing.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
From the LA Times, 10/7/01:
Blair Is Voice of Morals in New War
Britain: Premier's role on the global stage has earned him praise—and title of 'Mr. President.'
By MARJORIE MILLER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
While the president of a wounded nation sought retaliation, the prime minister of Britain sought to make sense of the senseless killing of thousands. He appealed for a new world order, in which rich countries help the poor and put down tyrants, to serve as a memorial to the dead.
"Out of the shadow of this evil should emerge lasting good: destruction of the machinery of terrorism wherever it is found, hope amongst all nations of a new beginning where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way, greater understanding between nations and between faiths, and, above all, justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed," Blair said to his Labor Party last week.
Globalization applies not just to trade, he argued, but also to conflict and chaos, confidence and order.
"The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force," he said. "What is the lesson of the financial markets, climate change, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation or world trade? It is that our self-interest and our mutual interests are today inextricably woven together."
From the LA Times, 10/9/01:
Tony Blair Puts Bush to Shame
The prime minister articulates ideas for achieving broader, more global goals.
By DAVID CORN
David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, is author of the novel "Deep Background."
WASHINGTON — Ever since the Sept. 11 attack, President Bush has tried to universalize his war on terrorism, casting it not merely as a campaign against the plotters and their supporters, but as a global struggle for freedom. It's not that he needs to persuade the American public that a reprisal is warranted; polls indicate overwhelming support for military action. Still, he has tried to convince audiences at home and abroad that this war is a values-driven endeavor rising above an exercise in self-defense or revenge. And the Pentagon helped by initially naming the mission Operation Infinite Justice.
The mission's moniker was dropped out of concern that devout Muslims would take offense at the notion that anyone but God could dispense "infinite justice." But simple truth-in-advertising would have necessitated a name change as well. It's hard to wage an international war for infinite justice—or even "Enduring Freedom" as the operation is now named—with some of the allies Bush has recruited. Turkey represses its Kurdish population and imprisons dissidents and human rights defenders. In Saudi Arabia, women face severe discrimination, and political and religious activists are routinely detained and punished without due process. Pakistan is ruled by a man who overthrew an elected government in a military coup. The government of Uzbekistan, which Bush has assiduously courted so the United States can base forces there, has locked up more than 7,000 political prisoners, some accused of no more than distributing religious leaflets or wearing a beard.
Several crucial participants in Bush's anti-terrorism coalition are not champions of enduring freedom and are uninterested in a global campaign of such grand intention. But Tony Blair, the prime minister of England, has eagerly promoted this new war on terrorism in the loftiest of terms, and he has done so in a manner that puts Bush's hollow appeal to freedom to shame.
If Bush is looking to enhance the image of his war on terrorism, he should study the remarks Blair delivered at a Labor Party conference last Tuesday. Blair's blistering speech received attention mostly for its hawkish eloquence. With much passion, he declared, "If [the terrorists] could have murdered not 7,000 but 70,000, does anyone doubt they would have done so and rejoiced in it?" He went on. "There is no compromise possible with such people .... I say to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists or surrender power." Much of the media described the address as a virtual declaration of war.
But even as the prime minister talked tough and vowed to defeat Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, he also noted that the problem of terrorism does not exist in a geopolitical vacuum. "We are realizing," Blair said, "how fragile are our frontiers in the face of the world's new challenges. Today, conflicts rarely stay within national boundaries. Today, a tremor in one financial market is repeated in the markets of the world. Today, confidence is global, either its presence or absence."
In addition to pursuing terrorists, Blair insisted, the international community must also band together to "sort out the blight" in the Third World—to provide more aid and write off debt, while demanding that recipient governments respect human rights and root out corruption. And Blair went further: "With imagination, we could use or find the technologies that create energy without destroying our planet; we could provide work and trade without deforestation." He stated the nations of the world must join forces to curb global warming and to revive the Middle East peace process: "The state of Israel must be given recognition by all .... The Palestinians must have justice." To triumph over terror, Blair said, "The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force."
Blair has defined the war on terrorism as one component of a wider project. This is quite a different tack than Bush's. The president, for tactical purposes, has inched toward a more engaged position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and his administration has discussed providing food assistance to Afghan refugees, but his war on terrorism is unconnected to a larger vision. His references to freedom are abstract. He has no way to explain how this war on terrorism will benefit, say, the Kurds of Turkey. In fact, freedom-seekers who live beneath repressive regimes may find their efforts hampered, as the United States downplays human rights concerns to prosecute the war on Bin Laden. Perhaps this is regrettably unavoidable, for war does bring ugly alliances and dirty deals. But Bush ought not add insult to injury by hailing this coalition as a force for freedom.
Words do come easy—especially to the best of British politicians—and Blair is as glib as they come. It remains to be seen if he can act in accordance with his bold principles. Yet words do count when a leader is attempting to mobilize public opinion at home and abroad—particularly in wartime or near-wartime.
"I believe this is a fight for freedom," Blair stated. "And I want to make it a fight for justice too .... The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan—they too are our cause." If the world were to hear such sentiments from Washington as well, if Bush were to dump his empty rhetoric and truly tether his war on terrorism to an extensive campaign for global justice, then the president might be able to justify the Pentagon's initial choice for the mission name.
On the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prize, 100 Nobel laureates warned that our security hangs on environmental and social reform. From a document posted 12/8/01:
100 Nobel laureates' warning
The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world's dispossessed. Of these poor and disenfranchised, the majority live a marginal existence in equatorial climates. Global warming, not of their making but originating with the wealthy few, will affect their fragile ecologies most. Their situation will be desperate and manifestly unjust.
It cannot be expected, therefore, that in all cases they will be content to await the beneficence of the rich. If then we permit the devastating power of modern weaponry to spread through this combustible human landscape, we invite a conflagration that can engulf both rich and poor. The only hope for the future lies in co-operative international action, legitimized by democracy.
It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security, in which we seek to shelter behind walls. Instead, we must persist in the quest for united action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world.
These twin goals will constitute vital components of stability as we move toward the wider degree of social justice that alone gives hope of peace.
Some of the needed legal instruments are already at hand, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Convention on Climate Change, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. As concerned citizens, we urge all governments to commit to these goals that constitute steps on the way to replacement of war by law.
To survive in the world we have transformed, we must learn to think in a new way. As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all.
Thinking in a new way means abandoning old assumptions and beliefs. It means clearing one's mind and developing a perspective beyond the mainstream and conventional. Having been victims of terrorism themselves, Native people do this instinctively. They see what most Americans don't.
Therefore, as the following suggests, the cause of world peace could use a Native perspective:
World needs America to lead for peace
Posted: September 20, 2002 -- 9:53am EST
Without denying the positive in the modern world, we reassert that the process of contact and conquest and colonization—apparent precursors to modernization—can bring forth great suffering to peoples who are living on their own lands and based in traditional societies. Real understanding of this important factor is crucial to creating a more stable and prosperous world. This piece of the global reality America needs to hear. It needs to know and contemplate it, to ponder and discuss it, even as it presses its military boot crushingly down on Al Qaida's neck, even as it necessarily identifies, studies, seeks and destroys all forms of international terrorism.
Once we've declared "victory" over terrorism, we'll still need to address the underlying problems. How will America deal with the world after this crisis is over? Will we continue our old Manifest Destiny ways, or try a new approach as Daniel Terris suggests? Will we finally realize the conquering, might-makes-right approach won't work when there's no one left to conquer?
Summing up the problem with the US, the terrorists, and the world, George Santayana said:
Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
George W. Bush has cast the terrorism crisis in comic-book, cowboy terms. We're the good guys, the heroes, with (of course) God on our side. We're going to wipe out the bad guys, the evildoers, the spawn of Satan. It's John Wayne, Superman, and Luke Skywalker, vs. the Indians, Lex Luthor, and Darth Vader in a grudge match to end all grudge matches.
That approach is fine when life really is a comic-book situation: good vs. evil with no shades of gray. That was the case when Hitler tried to conquer the world or Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. There was no valid reason for their actions or beliefs.
Such an approach didn't work well with the Indians or the Vietnamese. Then, as now, we had an amorphous enemy we didn't understand. It took decades of treaty violations and savage warfare to "subdue" the Natives...and we lost in Vietnam.
Of course, there's no justification for the 9/11 holocaust. None whatsoever. But this enemy, unlike Hitler, is the tip of the iceberg. It's not the spearhead of an "evil empire," something we can eradicate like a virus. It's the spearhead of a sprawling, legitimate culture that distrusts much of what we stand for. And our friends and allies agree with it much of the time. (Witness the UN's support for the Palestinian cause.)
Bush may succeed in the limited sense of beating the bad guy, though I wouldn't bet on it. But he's out of his league when it comes to understanding cultural conflicts. For that task we need a leader with vision, a Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. Someone who sees beyond the immediate crisis to the long-term clash of values and realizes brute force isn't the answer.
Sadly, the Dr. Seuss-reading, video game-playing Bush is the last one who'll change America's exceptional attitude. He couldn't make it to the end of this posting without an aide to summarize it for him. His understanding of anything is fuzzy at best.
Bush deals only in black and white. If anyone ever believed Dubya was "compassionate," that belief must be long gone. His thing is strength (insensitivity), determination (inflexibility), and God (arrogance).
Multicultural perspective needed
No, we need a leader as far above Bush as Bush is above a housefly. Someone with a multicultural vision who can lead a paradigm shift. Who can acknowledge America's weaknesses and the rest of the world's strengths—not the other way around—and approach conflicts with humility and respect.
Bush, the naysaying neo-isolationist who never met a treaty he liked, ain't that person. He probably couldn't spell or define "paradigm," let alone lead us to a new one. Like so many leaders before him, he seems destined to repeat America's mistakes.
Chosen by God (Manifest Destiny), he'll smash the barbarians (Indians) and lock up their accomplices (Japanese internment camps). He'll make the world safe for democracy. Where have we heard that before?
'Twas another US president who said:
The stage is set, the destiny disclosed. It has come about by no plan of our conceiving, but by the hand of God who led us into the way. We cannot turn back. We can only go forward, with lifted eyes and freshened spirit, to follow the vision. It was of this that we dreamed at our birth. America shall in truth show the way. The light streams upon the path ahead and nowhere else.
Unfortunately, Woodrow Wilson said this after the "war to end all wars." He neglected to anticipate World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Cold War, the war on poverty, the war on drugs, etc., etc. His and America's conceit—that they could actually end war—makes them look foolish historically.
With his pledge to "rid the world of evil," Bush is off on the same path. His "crusade" is as doomed as Wilson's was. As the original Crusades were. As is any crusade against an ideology rather than an evildoer.
John Lennon said "Give peace a chance" and "Imagine." Let's hope cool heads on both sides do just that. And let's hope not too many soldiers and civilians die along the way.
More on what the world needs now
4 Lessons to Make Us Safer: What Bush could do to create a more secure world for our children and grandchildren
West Can Fight Terror by Sharing Prosperity: Clinton
What happened: results of the so-called war
A shining city on a hill: what Americans believe
Winning through nonviolence
America's cultural mindset
. . .
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